Partnerships could be disbanded

First published in News

TOWN groups that have brought investment and life into Evesham and Pershore are all set to come to an end.

Over the past decade the Evesham, Pershore and Droitwich Market Town Partnerships have contributed to the growth of the towns they are based in, and bought in new business and events.

The Evesham organisation is credited with the arrival of M&S and Waitrose in the town and in Pershore the Plum Festival was boosted by partnership grants and also supported the development of Number 8.

The call for the partnerships to be disbanded came from the Wychavon District Council executive board.

While a final decision won't be made until the full council meeting on Tuesday, July 29, the board felt the roles could be continued by a town manager.

These positions will be maintained by current managers, Steve Knight, Pershore, Shawn Riley, Evesham and Janet Yates in Droitwich.

Speaking about the changes chairman of Pershore Market Town Partnership Michael Amies said: "The really good thing about it was the people there were from all sorts or organisations in the town and we weren't political. We have given out 150 grants totalling £700,000 to £800,000 resulting in match funding of nearly £7 million.

"I am hoping in some way the non political body will continue in some way."

At a meeting of the town council Cllr Charles Tucker said: "It's a disappointing thing to happen that the market town partnership is to be disbanded.

"I think they have contributed to the life of the town."

Mayor of Pershore Cllr Tony Rowley said: "I think Wychavon are walking away from this and I think a forum has really got to be generated from this town council."

Each town may be advised to create a town team to be a sounding board and carry out the same function as the market town partnerships.

Over in Evesham chairman Gerry O'Donnell said he was sure the work would continue.

"I regret the passing of the partnership but the networks and the partnerships that have been effective over the past ten years will probably still be involved in work for Evesham," he said. "I think the achievements should be applauded."

Paul Middlebrough, leader of Wychavon District Council, thanked the groups for their "exceptional work" and said the managers would be seeking to improve the focus, direction and impetus in terms of how the towns and villages were supported.

He added: "We are pleased to confirm the permanent appointment of three town managers who will continue to develop and maintain strong working relationships with the town councils, promoting tourism, festivals and above all economic prosperity."

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